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Cleat Cute

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They continue on in this fashion of willful ignorance because they never talk about anything until after a game when Grace makes a comment about Phoebe struggling with meds or something assuming that Phoebe has ADHD and that Phoebe knows about said ADHD. Even after they start their friends-with-benefits relationship, they both just really like one another and wish for more (if only they would’ve actually talked sooner.

Nothing feels trite or overblown, it's every bit as silly, messy, sexy, and heart-warming as I had hoped and more. New adult romance is not a regular genre for me as I don’t appreciate the angst or roller coaster confidence issues. It was fun seeing Grace and Phoebe going from rivals at their first national team camp together to begrudging friends and then friends with benefits. I didn’t know how it was going to shake out, but I thought the grand gesture was super heart melting.However, there are enough technical terms that if you know nothing about the sport it will all go over your head. Even though they have this arrangement and are friends and teammates, this book is RIDDLED with miscommunication. This works so well in part because of Grace and Phoebe’s emerging awareness of their neurodiversity (autism and ADHD, respectively). I love that I thought it was great and I thought that they were going to develop a friendship that would lead into more.

We have Phoebe Matthews who is a rookie and has just been drafted for some level of professional soccer playing. To calculate the overall star rating and percentage breakdown by star, we don’t use a simple average. The whole story was told in third person and had a crazy amount of internal monologue that was often repetitive and left me wanting more. Phoebe is tall and thin, with shoulder length red hair, and the cutest dimples when she smiles, which she does all the time, because “hey someone is willing to pay her for doing what she loves to do more than anything else in the world, play soccer”. Which, hey, fine, character-driven stuff with minor background noise is good but man when it feels like it's dragging, and there's nothing to distract you, and you're getting hit with sex scenes and monologues left and right, featuring not just one but two characters you can't really stand, ontop of stupid misunderstandings which cross the line into miscommunications, well.Thank you to the publisher for providing an advance copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

And like, if that's your jam that's your jam whatever, but I'm going to need some actual plot and/or character development or communication or talking. I’ve read some other soccer romances (Kulti by Mariana Zapata is an all-time favourite), and I’ve felt like those authors didn’t assume the reader would know anything about the sport.

Cleat Cute is a fun sapphic, rivals-to-lovers, romcom full of tropes including friends with benefits, forced proximity, and opposites attract. Initially Grace definitely had a “You kids get off my grass” type of vibe but Phoebe never gave up and as Grace changed so did I the reader. Phoebe is the newbie on the national team and a professional team and has idolized (and had a crush on) Grace for years.

Interestingly considering that their last novel was an age gap, Wilsner does often remind us that Grace and Pheobe only have a 4 year age gap and their dynamic is more due to experience than age. Surprisingly, she was selected the number one draft pick of the New Orleans club team, and if that alone wasn’t enough, she has just been invited to practice with the US national team.

All in all, the cards really were dealt against me here—what with “baby girl,” third present, and soccer—so I’m definitely impressed that I had an overall enjoyable time.

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